The film developed from John Grierson's opportunistic recruitment of Robert Flaherty. Flaherty was an anthropologist-cum-filmmaker who shot to worldwide prominence with Nanook of the North (1922), a documentary that detailed the hardships of Eskimo life. Soured by failure in Hollywood and inspired by the high seriousness of early Soviet cinema, Flaherty exchanged the exoticism of his previous work for an appreciation of Britain's industrial workers. Flaherty's intuitive way of working - he refused to write a script and instead filled reels of film with things that interested him, from static shots of Saltash Bridge to electricity pylons - proved unacceptably extravagant for a government agency. Flaherty was hired and it was left to Edgar Anstey to edit Flaherty's fragmentary impressions into a coherent whole. Hence, the grandeur of Flaherty's imagery was accompanied by an assertive, sociologically-minded editorialising which was temperamentally at odds with its Canadian mentor. Almost by accident, the basic mode of documentary cinema in Britain had been created.
DAFilms.com is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.